Shadia: Faith is stronger than a film

It is fair to say that last week I was in utter agony, lamenting the hot mess in the Middle East.

You must've thought: This girl is so quick to tell us how peaceful and loving her religion is, but yet the minute we're about to prove her wrong, she disappears.

Part of me hoped I didn't have to write about the violence following a short film ridiculing my Prophet becuase I didn't want to give more attention to those who committed violence in the name of religion.

But how can I waste this opportunity to talk about world events?

I called Imam Yassir Fazaga, the religious leader of the Orange County Islamic Foundation in Mission Viejo, and said, Imam Yassir, WWMD?

I wasn't asking about weapons of mass destruction. I just wanted to know: What would Muhammad do?

He reminded me of a popular story in Islam. People in Mecca would often wait for the Prophet to prostrate while praying so that they could cover him with trash and laugh. They humiliated and bullied him, attempting to destroy his reputation and break his spirit.

And what would the Prophet do? He got up, shook off the trash and moved on, Fazaga said.

The Koran mentions that detractors will characterize the Prophet as a crazed madman, Fazaga said, and Islam's opponents did just that last week.

Fazaga explained that followers of Muhammad should not take the bait and should not engage with his detractors.

But that's exactly what happened last week, among a small minority.

"The Muslims took the bait," Fazaga said. "The insult that was done by the followers of Muhammad was more harmful than the insult that was done by this movie."

It's important to note that the majority of Muslims condemns the violent reaction to the film. In Cairo, about 2,000 people took to the streets to protest the movie.

Cairo's population is about 20 million. Do the math.

When the protests began, my community members and leaders united to condemn those whom they described as "fools," those who dragged down Islam. The fools are not those who made the movie; the fools are the ones who took to the streets and to the embassies, reacting violently in the name of — get this — "defending the Prophet."

If they really wanted to defend the Prophet, they'd do something about the famine and disease killing children every day. And what about the killing of the innocents in Syria? Isn't that more offensive?

"Some people are willing to die for God, but are not willing to live by the commandments of God," Fazaga said.

I wanted to share this story with you to make one last point. Ten years after he began preaching Islam, the Prophet decided to visit the city of Ta'if, but he was ridiculed, humiliated, run out and belted with stones. He left with his legs soaked in blood.

And then the angel of mountains appeared before him, ready to destroy the people between the mountains at his command. But the Prophet refused, saying instead that his wish was for his detractors to one day embrace Islam.

What strength.

What faith.

This is the Prophet I know, the Prophet whom fools can and will never understand.

MONA SHADIA is a reporter for Times Community News. An Egyptian American, she was born and raised in Cairo and now lives in Orange County. Her column includes various questions and issues facing Muslims in America. Follow her on Twitter @MonaShadia.

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